First Ladies Quiz

Beth Hendricks

Image: Wiki Commons by Cecil W. Stoughon

About This Quiz

Have you ever heard the saying, "Behind every great man there's a great woman?" Nothing could more accurately represent the women who are the subject of this quiz.

When we welcome a U.S. president into office — something we've done 45 times now — we inherit his wife as our first lady. It's kind of like the first stages of a dating relationship, right? She doesn't know us. We don't know her. But we learn about each other, and by the end of either a four- or eight-year term, we often find we like them a lot more than their husbands! (Just sayin'.) 

America's first ladies are an eclectic bunch. An Emmy winner, an actress, fashionistas, a Grammy winner and the woman to whom we all owe a debt of gratitude — the creator of Girl Scout cookie sales. Thin Mints ... yum! We see women who started traditions that are continued today, women who created the White House we all recognize today and women who fought for the rights of other women. Now, that's girl power.

So, it's time to see what you know about our first ladies. Field the questions and clues in this FLOTUS opus and match the facts to the faces. Just try not to think about Girl Scout cookies the whole time, we dare you!


Which of these first ladies was able to attend the inauguration of her husband's successor after her husband's death?

Jacqueline Kennedy stayed by her husband's body after his assassination. Photos of her blood-stained dress have been widely circulated. A few days later, she was present when her husband's successor, Lyndon Johnson, took the oath of office.

This first lady was something of a writer. Which of these women penned a regular newspaper column?

Eleanor Roosevelt was known to write a column called "My Day," a look into the first lady's life and thoughts on political issues. The column was written up to six days per week and reached newspaper audiences all over the country.

Who was the first first lady to appear in a music video?

A one-time actress who appeared in nearly a dozen feature films, Nancy Reagan was no stranger to being in front of the camera. Her music video appearance was part of her "Just Say No" campaign against drug use.

Have you ever noticed wildflowers blooming in the middle the the highways? You have this first lady to thank. Who was it?

Lady Bird Johnson, more formally known as Claudia, sought to pretty up miles of highway with some wild-growing and inexpensive flowers. These projects still exist today around the country, a result of her efforts.

Which of these first ladies had the honor of being the first to appear on a U.S. postage stamp?

It stands to reason that the nation's "first" first lady should also be the first to grace a U.S. postage stamp. She also holds another distinction — being the last first lady to appear on U.S. paper currency.

Which of these first ladies so loved the color pink that a specific shade was created — and named — for her?

Mamie Eisenhower was a big fan of the color pink mostly as historians agree because she thought she looked good in the shade. She was also known to decorate the couples' various homes with it, earning her own shade known as "Mamie Pink."

Which of these first ladies is proficient in at least five languages?

Melania is not the first first lady to have been born outside the borders of the United States. Her worldliness has been to her benefit. She is fluent in five languages, including English, her native Slovenian, German, French and Serbian.

Which of these first ladies spoke up for all women during her husband's work on the Declaration of Independence?

Abigail Adams was quite the political intellect herself. In fact, her political savvy caused many to jokingly call her Mrs. President. Adams was quite vocal during her husband's work on the Declaration of Independence, advocating for women's rights.

Which of these first ladies couldn't measure up to her husband — at least in terms of height?

While her husband soared over most people at 6'4", Mary Todd Lincoln was what we'd call petite – a mere 5'2". Being a foot taller than his wife must've made it interesting to sneak a quick peck!

If you've ever had your breath taken away by Washington, D.C.'s, cherry blossom trees, you have this first lady to thank. Who was it?

Helen Taft was so taken by the cherry blossoms on a trip to Japan that one of Japan's political leaders used that as an opportunity to extend some goodwill. Roughly 3,000 saplings were shipped to Washington, D.C., becoming the flowering trees we anticipate each spring.

Which first lady's love of baseball earned her a prized seat in her favorite team's dugout?

Grace Coolidge wasn't one to shy away from her love of sports, even after her husband ascended to the highest office in the land. Her love of the Boston Red Sox earned her a seat in the team's dugout, at their invitation.

No autographs, please! Which first lady was also an Emmy Award winner?

Jacqueline Kennedy took television cameras on a tour of the White House in 1962 and earned a bit of entertainment hardware along the way. All of the major networks aired the tour to rave public reviews.

This first lady was a trend-setting fashionista, making headlines as the first president's wife to wear pants in public. Who was this outlaw?

Pat Nixon dared to go where no first lady had gone before ... wearing pants in a public setting. Pants have obviously become a hugely popular article of clothing for first ladies since, but perhaps they have Pat to thank for blazing the trail.

She is the only first lady to ever be elected to her own public office. Who are we talking about?

Hillary Clinton has had quite an illustrious political career herself, out of the shadow of her husband, Bill. Clinton has been a United States Senator as well as Secretary of State for President Barack Obama.

When British soldiers set fire to the White House in 1814, which of these first ladies sprung into action and saved a rare painting of George Washington?

During the War of 1812, troops set fire to the White House, but not before Madison could get her hands on the iconic image of Washington known as "Gilbert Stuart’s Lansdowne Portrait" and spirit it safely away.

Which of these first ladies was a direct descendant of famous Native American Pocahontas?

Pocahontas only had one son, named Thomas, but his lineage was responsible for both first lady Edith Wilson and, later, Nancy Reagan. Wilson's lineage came from her father's side of the family.

This first lady must have been a fan of Easter, being credited with having the White House's first Easter egg roll. Who was it?

Lucy Hayes started the White House's Easter egg roll tradition, which continues today. The event was said to have been developed when the grounds at the Capitol complex were ruled off-limits.

Yikes! Which of these first ladies was accused of killing her own husband?

Despite official reports that Warren Harding died of a heart attack, several people alive at the time of his death believed his wife, Florence, had a hand in his untimely demise. Her "weapon" of choice, they asserted, was poison, and that is what did in the 29th president.

Bucket list alert: Which of these first ladies stole away with Amelia Earhart for a flight around Washington, D.C.?

What happens when a guest of honor and the president's wife go missing? Apparently, nothing, as the two went on a "joy flight" over the Washington and Baltimore area from a plane they picked up where the Pentagon stands today.

Age is nothing but a number! Which of these women was the nation's youngest first lady?

Frances Cleveland was just 21 years old when her husband, Grover, took office ... for the first time. Frances also holds the distinction of being the only president's wife to give birth to a baby, Esther, in the White House.

Call it women's intuition. Which first lady may have saved her husband's life by declining an invitation to Ford's Theatre?

Julia Grant either had outstanding intuition or a skeptical nature when she encouraged her husband to decline an invitation to Ford's Theatre the night that President Lincoln was shot and killed.

Which of these first ladies fervently prayed NOT to become the first lady, hoping her husband would lose the election?

To say Jane Pierce didn't want to take on the duties of first lady would be an understatement. It's believed she prayed daily for her husband, Franklin, to lose his bid for the presidency. Ouch.

Not only did this first lady raise her own silkworms, but she also used the silk they produced in her sewing. Who was it?

Louisa Adams was a woman of interesting hobbies. Between playing the harp and raising silkworms whose silk she used in her own sewing, Adams was never at a loss for something to do while her husband was working.

This first lady holds the heartbreaking distinction of being the first to die in the White House. Who was it?

Letitia Tyler, the first wife of John Tyler, was also the first first lady to pass away in the White House while her husband was president. She is said to have died of a stroke. President Tyler later remarried.

They were married AND worked together. Which first lady served as her husband's secretary without taking a paycheck?

President James Polk's wife, Sarah, was both his secretary and a trusted political advisor during his stint as America's 11th president. Historians agree that Mrs. Polk was well-liked by the public and an asset to her husband's political career.

Which of these first ladies brought her farm roots — cows that grazed on the lawn — with her to the White House?

Eliza Johnson wasn't about to part with her cows when she took up residence in Washington, D.C. Instead, she opted to take them with her, where they went "out to pasture" in the White House lawn.

In sickness and in health. Which first lady took these vows seriously, caring for her husband for two months after he was shot?

James Garfield was shot only four months after taking office but did not immediately die. Rather, he lived for roughly 80 days, during which time his wife, Lucretia, was his full-time caregiver.

Which of these "almost" first ladies used to sing with a men's quartet?

We call her "almost" because Ellen Arthur never served as the first lady, having died sometime before her husband took office. She did, however, have a lovely singing voice, which she put to use in a variety of ways, including singing with a men's quartet.

Every first lady selects her own china pattern upon moving into the White House. Who started this tradition?

Caroline Harrison was the first first lady to choose an official state dinner china of her liking, starting a tradition that is carried on more than 125 years later. China patterns used in the White House are available exclusively to current and future administrations.

Which of these first ladies so detested Washington, D.C., that she even sent her laundry back to her home state to be cleaned?

Bess, the wife of President Harry Truman, was no fan of Washington, D.C., suffering from a clear case of homesickness. Even the Trumans' clothing was shipped back to Missouri to be tended to.

A former dancer, which of these former first ladies tapped dance her way out of the White House during her husband's last days?

Betty Ford may have bit her tongue, but she made her feelings about leaving the White House known through dance. Reports claim that Ford tap-danced on a conference table in celebration of her husband's final days in office.

Which of these first ladies was the first to have her own office in a wing of the White House?

Rosalynn Carter was a powerful influence on her husband, Jimmy, during his time in office. Whether the aid of her husband came before or after she secured her own office in the White House is unclear.

Which of these first ladies was both the wife and the mother of a United States President?

Barbara Bush served alongside her husband as the first lady during his presidency from 1989 to 1993, and then got a return trip to the White House when her son, George W. Bush, served as president from 2001 to 2009.

She might stand tall in the crowd: Which of these first ladies is tied for tallest of all?

Michelle Obama is the tallest of all of the first ladies, but she doesn't hold the title by herself. Eleanor Roosevelt was also a tall woman. Both were measured at a height of 5'11".

Which of these first ladies is the only to be the mother of twins?

Laura Bush and her husband, George W., are the parents of twin daughters, Jenna and Barbara, who was named in honor of her paternal grandfather. The girls spent a good portion of their adolescence living in the White House.

A skilled crocheter, which of these first ladies was said to have created 4,000 pairs of slippers that benefitted charity?

Ida McKinley, the wife of President William McKinley, suffered from a variety of health conditions that kept her confined to her bed. She used her time wisely, though, crocheting 4,000 pairs of slippers that were used to raise money for charitable organizations.

Which first lady was more likely to be found at the shooting range than hosting a tea?

Margaret Taylor wasn't much of a party planner or hostess, instead preferring the comfort of shooting firearms outdoors. Taylor detested the formal White House hosting duties so much that she delegated the responsibility to someone else.

This first lady loved to read! Who is credited with developing the White House's now-bursting-at-the-seams library?

Abigail Fillmore, the wife of President Millard Fillmore, helped develop the White House library, a perfect fit for her schoolteacher background. Today, the library boasts millions of volumes.

Which of these first ladies served as the president of the Girl Scouts – twice?

Lou Hoover, the wife of President Herbert Hoover, was closely linked to the Girl Scouts organization, serving two terms as its national president. No word on whether she liked Thin Mints, though.

Smart girls rule! Who was the first first lady to earn a college degree?

Lucy Hayes, the wife of President Rutherford Hayes, was the first first lady in the White House to complete a college degree. She earned a liberal arts degree in 1850 from Cincinnati Wesleyan Female College.

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